In addition to the consistent yet unpredictable excitement of professional cycling, a secondary attraction always lies beneath the surface of Tour de France broadcast coverage. This is, the ability of television viewers here at home– or from anywhere beyond the event itself– to take in what might seem like all of the country of France.
From farmland to mountain terrain, villages to mid-sized cities, modest cottages to grand chateaus, French topography and landmarks prove captivating as yet another interesting sight always seems to catch the eye. Even during a surprise sprint attack, an exhausting climb or a bullet-like descent, it’s hard to be unaware of the athletes’ beautiful surroundings. The genuine outpouring of enthusiasm from numerous roadside spectators simply enhances the joy. Plus, the roads, towns and many varied locations we see are never all the same from one year to the next, because no two Tour routes are exactly alike.
Now on this first of two days of “rest” in the Tour de France, the opportunity is here for any fan so inclined to enjoy as much French scenery as possible, free from the obvious priority of the next Tour stage. (If you missed it, the second rest day is next Tuesday, July 17.) All the while I dream of my own days– hopefully not too far in my future– when I will enjoy these beautiful places firsthand, by car, motorcycle, or best of all– bicycle! With each passing Tour, I realize all the more it’s been far too long since my last visit to France.